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Friday, February 5, 2010

Attn Blind People: Fear No More.

Scientists have recently begun to perfect a technology that allows for practical application in enabling people to see with sensory organs other than their eyes. Namely, the tongue. This allows otherwise optically challenged individuals, to “taste” their environment and locate spatial objects within their own brain schema.

The device essentially works like this:

- A camera mounted on a pair of sunglasses sits on the center of your face.

- The image which is taken by the camera, is transferred straight to a portable device (set somewhere on your body) and THEN transferred straight to a flat plate like device which sits on the base of your tongue.

- This plate then uses its hundreds of pixels to light and thus stimulate the nerve bunches based along the center of your tongue.

- This stimulus enables specific electrical current to send data right up to the visual cortex where it is interpreted as objects located within a space as opposed to bitter, sweet or salty.

The process that we are then talking about here is called, Electrotactile Stimulation for Sensory Substitution.

The fundamental science behind this impressive technology is as follows: The encoded electrical currents use an alternate sensory input channel, as opposed to using their original native channels. Meaning, new routs can spring up to transfer the SAME information to the SAME part of the brain when one input channel shuts down. If your eyes and optical nerve don't work don't fear, an alternate is here!

So now how does this science apply to the technology at hand? Imagine the plate “drawing” a real time image into your tongue via an advanced form of morse code. It shoots electrical signals, received from the portable device, into your tongue in such a way that it is mimicking a signal which was otherwise reserved for the optic nerve.

The truly genius part of the whole device is that the device itself is acting like an eye. It converts light pulses into electrical signals so that the tongue can act as a half assed retina. Brilliant eh?

Just to clarify however, this does not enable a blind person to see. It just allows for MUCH EASIER spacial recognition as long as there is SOME light is passing through the eye, as is the case with 95% of blind people.

Sometimes, I love the brain.

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